You ready for a Sucker Punch?

Being as I want to get myself back into reviewing books, music, TV and film on a more regularly basis and due to a close friend’s hatred for this particular film, I thought it a good place to start.

My friend and I expressed shock in equal measures at certain TV programs being missed: for me it was his admission that he had not heard of Justified, let alone seen it and his was that I was not really interested in Band of Brothers, one of his favourite TV series. Yes, I am a convert, I have now seen seven of the eleven episodes and consider episode six (Bastogne) one of the best episodes of any series I have ever watched (but that’s for a later review).

Anyway, there wasn’t much said about why my friend hated Sucker Punch so much that he considered that it is possibly the worst film he has ever seen, as he was aware I was very keen on seeing it. We promised to return to the discussion once I had.

We agree on Band of Brothers’ greatness but there’s no way we are going to agree on Sucker Punch, as I was pretty much drawn in from the opening scene and remained fully engrossed throughout. I’ve become much more of a TV series follower than a film viewer of late, more interested in the characterisation and development of key figures, especially now that a lot of the respected film actors are taking key roles in TV series but Sucker Punch reminded me of things I love about film too.

I have to say I’m a fan of both Zack Snyder as a film director and of Tyler Bates as a composer/arranger, as I thoroughly enjoyed the 2004 remake of the Romero classic Dawn of the Dead and I was pleasantly surprised by 300, having heard quite a bit of negativity about it beforehand.

Of Sucker Punch I knew nothing, except for several posters doing the rounds on the net being as I am a fan of watching a film when knowing little to nothing about it beforehand. From the poster the only thing I had gathered/assumed is that there was some Steampunk element to the film and that it would be action-based.

Well I got that but I got a hell of a lot more, as Sucker Punch’s soundtrack is one of the most innovative and punchy around. I was very impressed by Kick-Ass’ music when I watched that earlier this year for similar reasons but I think Sucker Punch takes it to a whole new level, as the film starts with two great covers, one of them possibly my favourite The Smiths song, Asleep. The soundtrack continues to move the film along and for me becomes a key character in the plot (for all the right reasons) with tracks chosen for not only their musical quality but for their lyrics too (think Baby Doll’s first dance track – Army of Me by Björk – very appropriate and Asleep with its message of suicide).

But the music is only a portion of the film, albeit a very successful one, with Snyder engaging direction seen already in Dawn of the Dead but much more in 300. Sucker Punch shares with 300 the comic book adaptation elements transferred to celluloid. It’s colourful, vibrant, over the top, unrealistic and total eye-candy, I just wanted more scenes, more action, more Sucker Punch.

The film is light on plot, the opening scene tragic and dark in contrast to much of what follows and then jumps into the aforementioned blockbuster action sequences, before ending with a predictable but not too disappointing conclusion. If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth and substance to it, you’ve probably been mislead somewhere along the way.

I haven’t seen anything written or discussed about the film yet, although my plan is to do that after my review is posted but I’m expecting there may well be a discussion about the favourite of the five heroines in the film.

Mine is ‘Sweet Pea’, by a country mile.

Oh and my last point: clockwork Germans in World War II = class!

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About Mark S. Deniz

English Teacher, writer, editor, publisher, reviewer and blogger. Founder of publishing company Morrigan Books and imprint Gilgamesh Press and editor-in-chief for review site Beyond Fiction. Also cycles, plays floorball, listens to lots and lots of music, reads a ton of books and tries to fit in some TV, film and writing too. View all posts by Mark S. Deniz

6 responses to “You ready for a Sucker Punch?

  • Erybar

    I saw a trailer for this a few months back and it seemed right up my particular alley. Having watched it I have mixed feelings about it.
    I’m always a fan of kick-ass herione types, and this delivers on the hot chicks with guns and swords in on almost anime way. It has totally over the top set pieces which initially blew me away (that first encounter in the temple is amazing). The only problem I had was the overuse of film speed variation to the point on the train where I just wanted it to stop.
    The soundtrack stood out for me too and I agree that is is a character in itself. The film is almost a series of action music videos until the last third, which has a little sucker punch or two of its own for shock value.
    Intersesting you say this is light on plot because I can see it confusing some people initially. Although the story is totally linear, it’s told in a layered form which needs you to pay attention at first. I also don’t agree that it’s predictable. While it doesn’t exactly have a twist in the tail, I would argue it has a kink or two in it. My biggest issue was the very end which was massively contrived.
    My gripes are very minor, I enjoyed it: very stylised, visually impressive with a couple of ‘wow’ moments for me and ultimately quite dark. Plus steampunk nazis, a thumpingly brilliant soundtrack and that whole kick arse chicks thing. Overall we have a winner.

    • Mark S. Deniz

      Yep, you’re right about the contrived ending, was such a shame and really there was no need, as it wasn’t a difficult one to write.

      I know what you mean about the film speed but I’m sort of used to that now with 300 and the Spartacus TV series.

      • Erybar

        It’s weird with the film speed. I loved it in The Matrix and it works in 300 and the other films TV things I’ve seen it in without becoming intrusive. This is the first film I’ve seen where it became too much and waaayyyy too obvious.
        It’s a shame because there’s four heroines with decent kit (Amber just gets the tech and support role) who should be able to hold good and varied fight sequences together on their own. Baby Doll has some excellent gun/sword combos, but they eventually get repetitive. Sweat Pea is carrying a really obvious broadsword which doesn’t get drawn and the other two are underused. As good a director as Zack is, a major part of this film is action based and if the only way he can find to vary the material is to mess with the film speed he needs to have a serious word with his fight choreographer.
        On a positive note, that Dragon was fantastic!

  • Lynne Jamneck

    I like Sucker Punch better than all of Snyder’s previous films. It has it’s flaws, but for me, it was a winner overall.

    • Mark S. Deniz

      Heh! I thought you were getting at me for a minute as I saw a rogue apostrophe when editing but thought I’d gotten rid…

      I’m not sure which of Snyder’s I prefer, as I really enjoyed this, 300 and Dawn of the Dead. I haven’t seen Watchmen yet but I’ve heard that’s the most disappointing.

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